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Getting to know...Clayton Coplestone

This week we meet the head of fund distribution business Heathcote Investment Partners, Clayton Coplestone.

Friday, March 27th 2015, 10:43AM

Who are you and what do you do?
Heathcote Investment Partners actively seeks to own the NZ rights to world’s-best investment capabilities from here and overseas. We use a combination of independent research, adviser appetite and global connections to help identify capabilities that are appropriate for the retail, wholesale and institutional community.

How did you get into the funds management industry?

I started off working as a scripie for a stock broking firm in 1985 before joining a money market entity in September 1987 (more out of luck than management). From there I was hooked on the investment world, and – after a brief stint at financial planning – started in funds management.

You started off at a small Australian fund manager nobody probably remembers and ended up heading up operations for an investment bank in Asia. What's the key differences between the little firms and the big ones?
I love the nimbleness of smaller entities, with everyone getting stuck in together. As entities become bigger, hirearchy and beraucracy creep in (often correlating with the number of HR personnel), creating an environment for people to focus on their area of expertise.

What brought you back to New Zealand to set up a fund distribution business?
Coming back to NZ was a no brainer – as it was the place where we wanted our kids to grow up. After a couple of years back in the country, I was disturbed to see that the industry was largely how I left it in the early 1990’s, and decided to start something that could make a difference.

You're reasonably pragmatic on investment issues. What would you go for active or passive management?
Whilst I acknowledge that a passive approach can be appropriate for efficient markets at some stages of the investment cycle, I am firmly of the view that top quality active managers will consistenly deliver solid returns and preserve investment capital. A wider concern that I have is the blind use of passive solutions, by an investment community who place price ahead of value. This self-serving strategy won’t protect investment capital on market drawdowns, and demonstrates a complacency creeping into an industry that needs to continually win the confidence of consumers. In an environment where there is limited tax and superannuation complexity, the industry must add value over and above what the consumer is capable of achieving on their own. Don’t get me started on measuring investment performance against meaningless indices… the latter being designed by the industry for the industry, with limited application by consumers.

If there is one thing you would like to change about the funds management industry, what would it be?
My biggest regret is that there are squeaky-wheels, who get more attention that they deserve promoting theories that best serve their interests ahead of investors. My preference is to be part of an industry that demonstrates that the investor is the centre of everything.

What's the best advice you have ever received?
Always put the client first. I’ve always found that you’ll never go backwards by looking at the industry through the lens of the investor.

Outside of work what do you do?
I’m passionate about spending time with my family – exploring NZ, and everything that we have at our doorstep. We are big outdoors folks, and can often be seen skiing, biking, running, swimming or generally enjoying the fresh air.

What's one thing people may be surprised to know about you?
Back in 2000, I co-authored 3 books on the future of financial services. Who would have thought that a kiwi-kid would end up on the speaking circuit presenting these forward-looking tombes to the global financial services industry?

If you weren't in this job what would you be doing?
You know – financial services is in my blood…. so tragically I’m doomed to this industry for the remainder of my days.

Tags: Clayton Copplestone Getting to Know

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